Bobcats strive for 5
Basehor-Linwood drops a pair, eyes win No. 5 in season finale
At the beginning of the season, first year head coach Mike McBride wrote down the number five. It was the number of games he realistically thought this year's Bobcat team could win. The Bobcats are now 4-15 this season, after losing to Piper on Tuesday night. With one game remaining, the Bobcats have one more chance to get what has proven to be a very elusive fifth win.
You could see the frustration on his face after the game, when McBride strolled out of the Piper visitor's locker room. The Bobcats, just minutes ago, had lost another game that was within their reach.
Five times this season the Bobcats have lost by less than five points. On Tuesday Piper won by nine 70-61, but the game could have easily gone either way. The Bobcats battled back and, after trailing by 15 at one point in the third quarter, and cut the Pirates lead down to five with two minutes remaining in the game.
"This was the first time we've executed a game plan, played hard, and smart all at the same time," McBride said. "We concentrated, and played well for 26 minutes tonight and gave ourselves a chance to win."
Despite 17 turnovers, the Bobcats showed a side of themselves and an intensity that they had not displayed before. Three Bobcat seniors exploded for double-digits. Senior Seth Lashbrook led the team with 19 points, including a 5-8 performance from behind the three-point line. Feeding of the energy of Lashbrook was fellow senior Michael Armstrong who finished with 15, adding four threes of his own. Both Lashbrook and Armstrong recently signed their intent to play football at Hutchinson Community College.
Senior Joel VanderVelde, Bobcat center, who hasn't made his future certain, had an opportunity to showcase his talents in front of a coach from Kansas City Kansas Community College, who was in attendance scouting one of the Pirate players. VanderVelde failed to disappoint, finishing with 17 points, going 7-8 from the field, 2-2 from the free-throw line, and blocking three Pirate shots.
"Man I wish I could have these kids for a few more years," said McBride of his current squad. "They learned a lot in just one season... we're starting to play with a lot more confidence."
But if you still need some good, cold, hard proof that the Bobcats have improved by leaps and bounds, use the Piper game as a comparison of this and last years seasons. On Tuesday the Bobcats lost by nine, last season Piper destroyed the Bobcats by over 50 points.
As hard as the Bobcats played, it's difficult to win a game when your opponent shoots 5-8 from the three-point line, just in the first half. Pirates senior Damian Young (the reason the KCKCC coach was there) hit three three pointers, scored 15 of his 19 points, and was the main reason why the Bobcats trailed by 12 at the half.
The Bobcats began the second half rejuvenated, outscoring their opponent, but couldn't capitalize on opportunities late in the game that would have given them a chance for a win.
"We took a couple of breaks in the first half, but they were smaller breaks than the beginning of the year," McBride said. "Everybody's getting better, we just haven't figured out how to win."
Coming so close so many times and falling short has taken it's toll on the Bobcats, but Tuesday nights performance demonstrated the kind of character that comes from a team that is 15-4 not 4-15. It is exactly the kind of integrity that the Bobcats have been working so hard all season to achieve.
During any season with as many disappointments as the Bobcats have had, there is bound to be some criticism. McBride has dealt with just about everything this season, upset parents, disgruntled hair dressers, and childish mockeries of a 23 point loss to Bonner. He just leaned forward, after Tuesday nights loss and said he was extremely tired of people doubting his boys, saying that Basehor Linwood had run out of athletes. "Have them come to just one of our practices," he said, backing up the athleticism of his players.
If you went to one of the Bobcats practices you'd see the number five still looming, it might even still be written on a dry erase board somewhere. You'd also see about 20 teenagers wearing sweat stained green killing themselves just to get one more win so they can walk with their heads held high.
Tomorrow night, in the confines of their own gym, the Bobcats will try and sweep league rival Tonganoxie, in their final regular season game. After the performance of the Bobcats seniors on Tuesday, a win against the Chieftains could possibly send the Bobcats slipper shopping, as they head into Sub-state.